Saturday, 16 July 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian.... Calling for Karabakh Independence Vote

RFE/RL Report
Armenia Insists On Karabakh Independence Vote
July 08, 2016
Sisak Gabrielian

Armenia's political leadership has reaffirmed its position that
Nagorno-Karabakh's internationally recognized status can only be
determined by its predominantly Armenian population in a referendum.

The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) insisted late on Thursday
that a "full realization of the Nagorno-Karabakh people's right to
self-determination through a referendum" is a necessary condition for
any peace accord with Azerbaijan.

"Nagorno-Karabakh must be able to fully exercise its right to
self-determination just like Scotland, Kosovo, East Timor and many
other countries and peoples have," the HHK spokesman, Eduard
Sharmazanov, told a news conference in Yerevan.

"Karabakh was not, is not and will not be under Baku's rule," he said.

The remarks came amid intensifying international efforts to
de-escalate the Karabakh conflict and achieve its comprehensive
settlement. They seemed primarily addressed to Azerbaijani President
Ilham Aliyev, who said late last month that Karabakh can only be
granted the status of an autonomous Azerbaijani region after Armenian
withdrawal from districts surrounding it.

A future referendum on Karabakh's status has been one of the key
elements of the Basic Principles of the conflict's resolution put
forward by the U.S., Russian and French mediators over the past
decade. The Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents most recently came
close to reaching a framework accord along those lines in 2011.

The mediators now seem hopeful that they can revive the stalled peace
process after the April 2-5 hostilities in and around Karabakh. It is
not yet clear whether they plan to make major changes in the Basic

U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin
agreed to step up joint Karabakh peace efforts when they spoke by
phone on Wednesday. Putin briefed Obama on the most recent
Armenian-Azerbaijani summit which he hosted in Saint Petersburg on
June 20.

Sharmazanov hailed the phone call as further proof that the United
States and Russia continue to work together towards a Karabakh

RFE/RL Report
Kerry Meets Armenian, Azeri Presidents
July 09, 2016

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held separate talks with the
presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Warsaw on Friday as part of
intensifying international efforts to end the Nagorno-Karabakh

Kerry already spoke with Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev
by phone on July 1. The U.S. State Department did not immediately
release a statement on his follow-up meetings with the two leaders.

Aliyev's office gave no details of his meeting Kerry held on the
sidelines of a NATO summit in the Polish capital. It said only that
they "exchanged views on issues of mutual interest."

For its part, Sarkisian's press service said the Armenian president
discussed with Kerry details of Wednesday's phone conversation 
between the U.S. and Russian presidents that focused on the
Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute.

It said Sarkisian and Kerry also agreed on the need for an
"unconditional implementation" of confidence-building agreements
reached at the last two Armenian-Azerbaijani summits held in Vienna
and Saint Petersburg.

Kerry was present at the Vienna summit held on May 16 more than one
month after heavy fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces
deployed around Karabakh. Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted the
Saint Petersburg meeting of Aliyev and Sarkisian on June 20.

Putin briefed U.S. President Barack Obama on that encounter during
their phone call. The two men reportedly agreed to step up joint
efforts to prevent another escalation of the conflict and achieve its
comprehensive resolution.

Sarkisian on Friday again praised the U.S. peace efforts. He said
Kerry deserves credit for his agreements reached with Aliyev not only
in Vienna but also Saint Petersburg.

In a joint statement with Putin issued after the June 20 meeting,
Aliyev and Sarkisian again pledged to bolster the shaky ceasefire
regime in the conflict zone. They also said that they reached an
"understanding" on unspecified issues hampering a Karabakh settlement. 
Interesting Signals from Armenia and Azerbaijan to NATO
Hakob Badalyan, Political Commentator
09 July 2016, 11:50

The Defense Army of Karabakh informed about Azerbaijan’s attempt at a
reconnaissance-in-force in the direction of Aghdam, which was
pre-empted. This is the first such attempt after the ceasefire
following the Sargsyan-Aliyev meeting in Vienna. Azerbaijan’s attempts
to violate the ceasefire following Vienna mostly involved firing,
seldom grenade launchers were used but there were no attacks.

In this context, the information reported by the army of Artsakh is
evidence to Azerbaijan’s specific step, at least in the post-Vienna
period. So, the question is whether Baku’s attempt to violate the
ceasefire contains any political signals. Is this the aim why
Azerbaijan has “resumed” reconnaissance “violations”?

Interestingly, Azerbaijan is using a “different” way of violation 
of the relative ceasefire established for a long time now ahead 
of the NATO summit and Obama-Putin telephone talk.
This telephone conversation took place a few days ago and they
discussed inter alia the issue of Artsakh conflict. According to the
official press release, Putin presented the results of the meeting in
Saint Petersburg, and Obama commended Russia’s efforts for settlement.

Several issues occurred after the meeting in Saint Petersburg 
as to whether it was Russia’s attempt to form a “separate” process. 
No doubt the other co-chairs of the Minsk Group France and the 
United States also had such concerns. As a result, the co-chairs 
of these countries attended the meeting in Saint Petersburg and did 
not leave Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia alone, and announced 
repetitively after the meetings that they view Saint Petersburg as the 
continuation of Vienna.

The statement of the French ambassador in Armenia following the
meeting was interesting. He said that although the concluding
statement of the meeting in Saint Petersburg did not mention the
introduction of an international mechanism for the maintenance of the
ceasefire and only the increase of the number of OSCE observers was
mentioned, the mechanism remains the primary issue.

Azerbaijan, though, leaked that Saint Petersburg was a “separate”
attempt, either due to carelessness, or to try Russia’s’ reliability.

An official of Aliyev’s staff announced that the return of five
territories was discussed there. Russia said it is an irresponsible
comment and accused Azerbaijan of being “leaky” and said the Artsakh
process requires silence. This was followed by an outbreak of the
Russian-Turkish reconciliation.

Then, apparently, Obama’s interference was needed. Interestingly, it
happened in a period when the Russian media detected Putin’s new
“disappearance” from the public arena. They found out that since July
1 he has not attended any public event, several were cancelled, his
visits to other Russian cities were cancelled. At this stage, the
Obama-Putin telephone conversation took place where Putin reported on
Saint Petersburg.

Apparently, it has been explained to the Russian president in detail
that he will not be able to implement his “peacekeepers for
territories” plan, and there is no alternative to the agenda of
Vienna, the mechanism of introduction of a ceasefire.

Is it accidental that Azerbaijan attempts to violate the ceasefire
after this telephone conversation?

The introduction of the international mechanism of maintenance of
ceasefire changes essentially the situation in the Artsakh area and
the Caucasus in general. This is not an automatic process but it is
also obvious that the United States has started a fundamental revision
of the centennial Russian-Turkish system of security in the Caucasus,
evidence to which is U.S. Secretary Kerry’s July 6 statement on
providing military assistance to Georgia.

The stakeholders of the current security system Russia, Turkey and
Azerbaijan do not have the economic and political resources to resist
this process. The only resource is the blackmail about military

In addition, not only after the warning to Putin at the level of the
U.S. president but also ahead of NATO summit which, according to
international experts, may become the most important one since the end
of “cold war”.

In this context, the statement of the U.S. co-chair Warlick is
interesting, who said this is a good chance for discussions of the
issue of Artsakh therefore he is leaving for Poland.

The new outline of the international security system, as well 
as the security system of the Black Sea-South Caucasian region 
may be completed. This means that the Artsakh issue will be 
viewed in this context.

On the eve of the visit to Poland Serzh Sargsyan confirmed several
important appointments in the Armenian armed forces. It is not
accidental that these appointments preceded his visit to Poland, and
this is actually Armenia’s “reserve” in the fields of the NATO Summit.

The actions of Armenia and Azerbaijan ahead of the summit are
interesting. Armenia presents at the important summit of NATO 
aiming to complete the outline of the global security system the 
new personnel which will participate in the new system, and 
Azerbaijan once again illustrates that it is a steady threat to this 
Gifts as Bribes? Financial Disclosures of Top Armenian Officials 
Fail to List Sources
Hrant Galstyan
July 9, 2016

According to Armenia’s “Public Service Employment Law”, civil servants
or government officials are forbidden to accept gifts that are in any
way connected to carrying out their assigned duties.

Simply put, such gifts/gratuities are regarded as nothing more than
bribes for said civil servants to either turn a blind eye to various
infractions or as incentives to apply the full power of their office
if such a measure suits the gift-giver.

Unfortunately, in Armenia, it’s hard to gauge whether gifts, often
amounting to thousands of dollars, listed in the financial disclosures
submitted by officials, are aimed at manipulating the powers that be.

The reason is simple. Financial disclosures filed by government
officials in Armenia do not disclose the source of those gifts.

Ministers and Their Relatives

The only minister who has officially disclosed any gift while in
office has been Arpineh Hovhannisyan., Armenia’s Minister of Justice.
In 2012, when a Republican Party of Armenia MP, she received a 3
million AMD ($6,300) gift.

While no other minister has disclosed such gifts on their financial
reports, their relatives and friends have.

In 2014, when Armen Mouradyan assumed the post of Minister of Health,
his family received a gift of $43,000. The same year, Mouradyan’s wife
Yelena Amirkhanyan received a $15,000 gift and $10,000 the following
year. The minister’s mother received 4.3 million AMD in 2014. His
daughter Gayaneh received $4,000 in 2014 and $5,000 in 2015.

Deputy Ministers

Deputy ministers in Armenia have also received gifts, often larger ones.

Deputy Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Arsen Karamyan received
$100,000 in gifts since 2011. While Karamyan has served as minister
since 2009, his financial disclosures, as is the case for other top
officials, start in 2011.

Artur Poghosyan, deputy culture minister since 2009, disclosed $18,000
two years later.

In 2011, when serving as Tavoush Provincial Governor, Deputy Minister
for Urban Construction Armen Ghoularyan received a $20,000 gift.

In 2014, Deputy Health Minister Tigran Sahakyan received a 52 million
AMD ($109,000) parcel of land as a gift. (Tigran is the eldest son of
parliament president Galust Sahakyan)

Deputy Minister of Finance Atom Janjoughazyan received a 12.7 million
apartment as a gift in 2015. Hasmik Martirosyan, his wife, received
216,000 AMD as a gift in 2011.

According to the Public Sector Employment Law, all gifts over 100,000
AMD must be allocated for charitable purposes or regarded as the
property of said ministry.

Wives of Deputy Ministers

Maneh Haroutyunyan, wife of Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural
Resources Hayk Haroutyunyan, received a gift of 20 million AMD in
2015, one year after her husband took office.

Sofya Makaryan, wife of Deputy Minister of Agriculture Robert
Makaryan, received commercial property valued at 1 million AMD in

Bella Baghinyan, wife of former Deputy Minister of Agriculture Grisha
Baghinyan, has received $17,500 since 2013. (Grisha Baghinyan and his
two assistants were dismissed in June)


In 2013, Rafayel Poghosyan, son of Deputy Minister of Health Vahan
Poghosyan, received a gift of 23 million AMD ($48,2500.

Daniella, daughter of Deputy Minister for Diaspora Affairs Vahagn
Melikyan, received a $10,000 gift in 2012 and 29.9 million AMD the
following year.

In 2014, Hayk, the 19-year-old son of Deputy Minister of Finance Pavel
Safaryan, received a gift of $52,600 dollars. He the purchased a
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado.

Armineh and Mary, daughters of Deputy Minister of Defense Movses
Hakobyan, received 7 million AMD each in 2015.

“Other Income”

This is a convenient catch-all category for revenues other than wages,
interest and dividends, inheritance, rents and gifts.

For example, in 2013 and 2014 Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan
declared 40 and 30 million AMD respectively in “other income”. There
is no information regarding the source.

Julietta Abrahamyan, the prime minister’s wife, declared 218 million
AMD ($458,000) in “other income” between 2011 and 2015.

Alisa Grigoryan, wife of Minister of Nature Protection Aramayis
Grigoryan, has declared 118.3 million AMD in “other income” in

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